Monday, February 6, 2012

Early February Media Goodness

IDs not so easy to come by: A Pioneer Press letter in today's paper from a woman who has worked with people trying to get photo IDs shows just how hard it can be:

In my work assisting adults with various services, I assist in obtaining a picture ID - whether it is a Minnesota driver's license or ID card. Some folks at our Legislature say it is easy to acquire a picture ID card. If one has needed documents, it may not be difficult. However, the operative word here is "if."

I work in a bureaucracy, a county agency, and to assist persons with this, I need to work with two other bureaucracies, the state of Minnesota and Social Security Administration. The dilemma is this: To obtain a picture ID card, one needs a certified birth certificate with the embossed seal (not a copy) and an original Social Security card. In situations I worked with, the adults did not have an original Social Security card or the needed birth certificate. However, to obtain a Social Security card, one needs a picture ID card and a birth certificate. So, you can see the problem.

It is not always easy to obtain a birth certificate. And there is the cost, which is prohibitive to some people. Minnesota Vehicle Services has a "variance request form." This also involves providing a certified birth certificate. If Minnesota Vehicle Services grants the variance, the adult is able to obtain a Social Security card - if he or she also has a certified birth certificate. This all takes time, and not all people have professionals to assist them.

If this law were to go into effect, it would greatly discriminate against many of our fellow Minnesotans - elders, poor, disabled and homeless. My hope is that Minnesotans do not want to do that to their fellow citizens.

Jean Anderson, North St. Paul
Talking about the local landscape: Architectural historian Larry Millett, dean of the architecture school at the U of M Tom Fisher, and Jay Walljasper, promoter of the idea of the Commons were on MPR's Midday last week, discussing reuse of empty buildings in Minnesota. A conversation to warm the heart of James Howard Kunstler.

The imprisonment of America: An absolutely stunning 45 minutes of radio this morning on Midmorning. Two guests revealed the excruciating state of incarceration in America, including the fact that 50 percent of black men without a high school diploma are in jail. When the show started, I thought the fact that one guest calls it "the new Jim Crow" was a bit strong, but I left convinced. And the rise of for-profit prisons and other businesses selling services to prisons only makes it less likely that anything will change.

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